Book Review: Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino

Book Review: Before We Were Strangers by Renee CarlinoBefore We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino

Published by Simon and Schuster on August 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, New Adult, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher

Click here to buy the book from AmazonBooktopiaBook DepositoryAngus and Robertson
To the Green-eyed Lovebird:

We met fifteen years ago, almost to the day, when I moved my stuff into the NYU dorm room next to yours at Senior House.

You called us fast friends. I like to think it was more.

We lived on nothing but the excitement of finding ourselves through music (you were obsessed with Jeff Buckley), photography (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of you), hanging out in Washington Square Park, and all the weird things we did to make money. I learned more about myself that year than any other.

Yet, somehow, it all fell apart. We lost touch the summer after graduation when I went to South America to work for National Geographic. When I came back, you were gone. A part of me still wonders if I pushed you too hard after the wedding…

I didn’t see you again until a month ago. It was a Wednesday. You were rocking back on your heels, balancing on that thick yellow line that runs along the subway platform, waiting for the F train. I didn’t know it was you until it was too late, and then you were gone. Again. You said my name; I saw it on your lips. I tried to will the train to stop, just so I could say hello.

After seeing you, all of the youthful feelings and memories came flooding back to me, and now I’ve spent the better part of a month wondering what your life is like. I might be totally out of my mind, but would you like to get a drink with me and catch up on the last decade and a half?


Before they were strangers, Matt and Grace were friends. And then maybe something more. But then something happened and now they haven’t spoken in fifteen years.  After a chance sighting on a subway platform, Matt reaches out to Grace in the form of a missed connection ad and it is from there we get to see the story of how they met, what they meant to each other and how things went so wrong.

I was excited to read this book. I adored the concept of getting to see where Matt and Grace were now and then going back to where it all began. And for a large part of this book I was in love. In love with how they met and who they became to each other.

But then slowly I found myself falling out of love with the story because of how certain things came to be. And it isn’t Before We Were Strangers fault. I think it’s a flaw consistent with this kind of story.

We got to know Matt and Grace as young adults, both studying their passions at university. Matt wanted to be a photographer and Grace was a gifted musician. They were young and optimistic about the future. Grace came across as a bit of a manic dream pixie girl who’s idea of a good first date is donating blood but Matt was happy to follow her as long as he got to be with her. They fell in love and it was beautiful to watch. And then came the problem. For the beginning of the book to work and having Matt and Grace become strangers to each other, there needed something to happen which would cause their relationship to fall apart catastrophically.

This is where the book fell down for me.

After making me fall in love with them and their story, I needed something good to believe the break up. Something so momentous and epic that even the strength of true love couldn’t overcome it. But when it came down to it (especially considering some of the circumstances) these two just didn’t fight hard enough. They didn’t even battle.

When an author works so hard to have couples come together and the readers are fighting for the characters – there needs to be more than just a miscommunication to end true love. MORE I TELL YOU!

The rest of the book does pick up after this but I was heartbroken and found myself less invested with the story the more I read.

Before We Were Strangers is a wonderful story and I blame myself for getting too involved too early on. It’s emotional and tears at your heart in a way really well written writing does. This is a book with a stronger start than finish but the ending is satisfying to a point. Perfect for fans of KA Tucker and contemporary adult reads, Before We Were Strangers is a strong romance and interesting take on relationships.

Before We Were Strangers in less than ten words: Great premise and a good story about love andrelationships.

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